There is no question that flip flops are a very popular footwear style all over the world. For many people, they are the go-to shoes on hot sunny days. They are very relaxing, unlike enclosed shoes which can be rather limiting and uncomfortable. However, this cheap and reliable footwear can have very dire consequences for the environment. More than 150 million pairs of flip flops are produced each year. When you consider the fact that flip flops do not last very long, you realize that this results in a lot of waste being dumped in our oceans and landfills. So how can this be managed? Simple: recycling.
How to recycle old flip flops? Most older versions of flip flops are made using plastics that are non-recyclable. Most of these old flip flops are made with synthetic plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and softening agents such as phthalates. When these chemicals are combined with heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, the material of the flip flops becomes carcinogenic to humans and toxic to animals and plants.
This makes recycling older versions of flip flops very difficult. Since they contain PVC, burning them can result in health hazards to people who live close to the incinerators due to long-term exposure to dioxins. In addition, they will release harmful chemicals when dumped in landfills. Most flip flops also end up in the oceans, polluting marine life. It is therefore very important that these flip flops are recycled in order to conserve the environment.
The ways old flip flops can be recycled
1. DIY Projects
You can use old pairs of flip flops for several simple DIY projects at home. Some of the simple things you can do with them include:
One way you can make use of old flip flops is by shredding them. You can cut them up into small pieces and thin strips. You then stuff these strips to make cushions or even chew toys for your pets.
Using them as floaters
Another project you can do by yourself at home is to use flip flops to create floating items. You can create several toys you can use on your next trip to the pool using old pairs of flip flops. You can create floating items such as cup holders and simple floaters, just to name a few.
Pinning them to the wall
Another thing you can do by yourself using flip flops is make a board where you can pin objects. Since flip flops are made from rubber, you can stick them on a wall and pin stuff on them. You can even use the rubber board to pin your art.
Using them as stabilizers
You can also use old flip flops to stabilize pieces of furniture around the house. Unstable and wobbly furniture can be very irritating at times. Your old flip flops might just have the perfect thickness for placing under table and chair legs which are uneven to stop them from wobbling.
Using them as floor protectors
Also, you can use your old pair of flip flops as floor protectors. You can cut the flip flops into small pieces and place them under appliances and under the legs of heavy furniture such as cupboards to prevent them from scratching the floors. You can also place them under washing machines and dryers which vibrate when in use, to prevent them from scratching the floor.
Using them as door and window stops
The other thing you can do with an old pair of flip flops by yourself is use them as door and window stops. You can use old flip flops to cushion the impact of doors and windows to prevent them from shutting loudly. You can cut the flip flops to size if you want them to remain unnoticed.
2. Send them to UniquEco
You can recycle flip flops by sending them to UniquEco. UniquEco is a non-profit organization that accepts shipments of flip flops from all over the world. The organization then repurposes the flip flops into colorful hand-made pieces such as jewelry, toys, and art among other products. UniquEco is a key source of employment, providing many jobs to local artisans. The only problem is that UniquEco is based in Kenya. This means that you will have to ship flip flops halfway around the globe which can be difficult and expensive. What you can do is collect flip flops from friends and family and the community and send them in one large shipment to the organization. This is a wonderful way of recycling your old flip flops since not only will you be conserving the environment but also help provide employment to local artisans at UniquEco.
3. Buy wisely
Before you discard your flip flops to purchase new ones, you should ensure that they are completely unusable. There are people who get rid of their flip flops when they can be easily repaired and used again. Also, you should ensure that the sandals you purchase are of good quality and will last for long. Bad quality flip flops will barely make it through the summer. The best way to recycle flip flops is to ensure that you reduce the amount of material to be recycled. You can do this by purchasing good quality flip flops that are made with materials that are less toxic.
4. Earth 911
Earth 911 is an online eco-hub and database that helps you to find a recycling site for old flip flops, shoes, among other products near you. The platform is easy to use. All you have to do is enter that you are looking to recycle flip flops and your zip code. Earth 911 will then provide you with a list of locations such as community centers, mail-back programs, and other areas that will be more than happy to take the old flip flops off your hands. You can then take the flip flops there personally or mail them. You can, therefore, take as many flip flops as you can to these locations.
Plusfoam flip flops are made from an alternative to conventional rubber that is eco-friendly. In order to know if your flip flops are made eco-friendly alternative, all you need to look at the sole of your flip flops for a Plusfoam logo. Plusfoam flip flops are made with a material that was produced without any post-manufacturing waste. Besides, Plusfoam has a mail-back program which you can use to recycle your flip flops. All you need to do is to log in to their site and download a shipping label which you will use to ship your used flip flops to them.
Soles4soles is a non-profit organization based in Tennessee which you can give your flip flops and other shoes to. The mission provides shoes to those in need. Soles4souls has drop-off sites around the country where you can take your gently worn flip flops. The non-profit can also send you pre-paid shipping labels for you to ship your used flip flops to them. Shipping your flip flops to Soles4souls to be used by those in need is a great alternative to disposing of them. Besides, you will be helping conserve the environment.
7. Terra Cycle
Terra Cycle is an ecological organization that recycles hard-to-recycle goods. These hard-to-recycle goods include flip flops. However, you will have to purchase a collection box where you can put your flip flops and other hard to recycle material. These collection boxes start at $61. The collection boxes include a free shipping label which makes it convenient for you to return the box once it is full. This is a great initiative since you can collect old flip flops from your family, neighbors, and friends to ship in case you do not have enough worn-out flip flops to fill the collection box.
8. Use sustainable flip flops
You can use flip flops that are made from sustainable material. There are flip flops that are made from a blend of materials that are recyclable and materials that are biodegradable such as soy. These flip flops have a similar feel to rubber flip flops. You will not even notice the difference. The only difference is that these flip flops are 100% recyclable. Some of the companies which manufacture these completely recyclable flip flops such as Third Oak will allow you to purchase the recyclable sandals at a discount if you ship your old flip flops to them.
Flip flops negatively impact the environment when disposed of in the wrong way. Old flip flops made from synthetic plastics are especially harmful to the environment. They clog our oceans endangering marine life and pollute landfills by releasing harmful chemicals. It is therefore important that they are recycled in order to conserve the environment. You should also opt for flip flops that are 100% recyclable and high quality pairs that are more durable to minimize pollution of the environment by flip flops.